According to the 2020 Ecological Threat Register, more than 90 per cent of the people in Sierra Leone face moderate to severe food insecurity, with nearly 26% of the country’s population suffering from undernourishment.
Sierra Leone was the world’s most food insecure country in 2018, with 91% of the population facing food insecurity. An estimated 53 per cent of Sierra Leoneans live below the $1.25 per day poverty line. Climatic conditions have caused many crops to fail or have low outputs, which have led to shortages of food.
While Sierra Leone has a lower overall exposure to ecological threats, it is facing a catastrophic level of food insecurity. With a quarter of the population already undernourished, even a small negative environmental or societal shock will leave millions of people at risk of starvation.
Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted international food procurement causing food imports to decline. Consequently, the availability of food has fallen. From January 2018 to June 2020, the price of Cassava in Sierra Leone has increased almost three-fold. The higher prices for staple foods, as well as the tightening supplies driven by domestic and international circumstances, will further compromise food insecurity in Sierra Leone.
Food insecurity is defined as catastrophic if the prevalence of regular hunger and undernourishment is greater than 25 per cent of the population. Sierra Leone, Liberia and Niger were among the most affected, with over 80 per cent of the population suffering from moderate to severe food insecurity in 2018.